PuggleFM - The Battle for Family Friendly Radio by Charlotte Caruso

PuggleFM - The Battle for Family Friendly Radio by Charlotte Caruso



Tell us about your business?

PuggleFM is Australia’s first radio station for families/parents. Since June 2010, we have been battling with ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) as well as Minister Stephen Conroy for a right to broadcast such a station – to this day we have been denied such a right, but have taken our case to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, where it is currently being reviewed.

PuggleFM aims to provide useful and valuable information to parents, whilst playing music that we all love to hear, and we are happy for our children to sing along to. We aim to remove all useless, boring and repetitive adverts and instead only promote really good products and services, valuable to parents.

PuggleFM currently streams online and has podcasts for parents to download and listen to any time of the day, discussing topics like Reflux, Gen Y, Baby Boomers, Travelling with Kids, and much, much more.


Why did you start up your business?

PuggleFM started in the car in June 2010 when I was driving my girls to school, listening to the radio. The first station spend 20 minutes talking about a footballers wife losing weight after having a baby, in disgust, I changed the channel to a station playing Rihanna’s “S and M” playing at 8.30 in the morning, flicked again and I got a nasal spray ad – being so angered by the ridiculous content on the radio I turned to a CD that would keep the kids happy – only I went straight into a traffic jam. This gave me another hour in the car to brew over why there wasn’t a radio station for parents. I know there were one’s for religious groups, for the elderly, for university students, why not for families? I had never expected that such a radio station didn’t nor had even existed in Australia, so that day when returning to work I began to develop PuggleFM.

I have always wanted PuggleFM to provide entertainment and valuable information to parents. Instead of only discussing hot topics such as how long to breastfeed for or whether or not to use dummies, I wanted PuggleFM parents to be given access to more valuable and useful information – discuss politics and how it affects families, discuss the state of education, health, allow parents to connect and share the journey of parenthood – the highs and the lows.



What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting your business?


Most definitely getting a license! We have applied for a community license and were refused as they have denied us 90.1FM (which is currently white noise in Perth) because it “may” interfere with a TV station 200km away, despite the fact they have granted 90.5FM a license – who have the exact same potential to “interfere” with that same TV Station (this is why we have taken them to the Commonwealth Ombudsman). Additionally we requested the right to be granted a digital radio license, and have been refused on the basis that Mr. Conroy (existing Minister for Digital Broadband and Media) does not want to grant any digital licenses as he plans to keep them all to auction for 4G networks, with an estimated net work in the billions.

Despite these setbacks we have been streaming online and developing podcasts since July 2012 and are steadily growing from the online exposure.

Because of these setbacks, finding advertisement has been a challenge, as most people have said they would love to engage and promote their products via our radio station, however this is conditional on getting a license. This has meant we have had to bend and be dynamic to survive.

What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting their own business?

Do your research first. Make sure you understand the future obstacles for your industry, make sure you know your competitors and what they struggle with, and make sure there is a big enough gap in the market – then go for it.

Be fluid and dynamic enough to overcome obstacles – and make sure you enjoy it every step of the day, as it will require a HUGE amount of dedication, make sure its worth that sacrifice for you!

What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?

When I realized it had never been done before, that it was really needed, and sometimes the best most successful business ideas are the ones that seem so obvious.

How did your family and friends react?

Without the support and excitement of my family, I don’t think I would have ever taken the jump. I remember texting the idea to my husband, father in law and mum, they all texted back immediately it was a brilliant idea, and I have never looked back since then. Had they turned around and not responded or said they didn’t think it would work, I most certainly wouldn’t have been brave enough to take the leap on my own. In saying that, the dedication required has taken a toll on my family, because I’m usually so exhausted, however there always there for me, egging me on, so they’ve been a huge reason why PuggleFM is still fighting on today.


How has your life changed?
It’s funny – kids have an amazing ability of keeping things real. I remember just after the news article on PuggleFM was published in the Sunday Times, I had all kinds of networks calling me for interviews, it was crazy, and here I was, stepping over toys, still in my PJs, no makeup on, thinking – if only they could see me now!! My life hasn’t changed much, because I’ll always be a mum and a wife first, but I certainly have less time on my hands and struggle with time management a LOT more than I ever used to. But for all the struggles, I’ve had amazing experiences and have met amazing people, and I honestly have loved every minute of this journey so far and I’m excited to see what lies ahead!

What is the vision for your business going forward?

Well, the latest technology shows that cars will be fully internet connected within the next 5 years, so with that, an online radio station has a lot of potential! I am working on having the podcasts streaming on iTunes and working on a few other projects to keep the wheels turning until the Commonwealth Ombudsman come back with (hopefully) some good news. Until then I plan to focus my attention on providing a better quality of podcast content and sound for our listeners.

What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your start-up?

You need to be passionate about it. If you have passion then motivation comes by itself. You need to really believe in what you’re doing, the value of it, that it will make the world a better place and not just be focused on making profit, I think this focus on “doing good” will always motivate you. The other piece of advice is partner up with someone who will make you feel compelled to take the next step, and the next step etc. – accountability is everything! 

Charlotte Caruso

CEO at PuggleFM

I am the Founder and CEO of PuggleFM, a radio station for families. I am a wife and Mum of 2 daughters who inspire me every day. I am still completing my degree in International Business at Murdoch University and I love to talk - which is suitable for radio I guess. I like to discuss politics, world affairs, topics on education, health and the recent media junk binge.